April 9, 2008

HRCP discusses ‘missing people’ with Nawaz

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:09 am


APRIL 09, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
By Atif Nadeem


HUMAN Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Asma Jahangir and Director IA Rehman called on Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif at his residence in Raiwind to discuss human rights issues on Tuesday.

Asma Jahangir urged Nawaz Sharif to adopt a human rights agenda, so that peoples’ fundamental rights could be protected in the country. She also presented him the annual report on human rights, prepared by the HRCP, which was released to the media a few days ago.

Asma told The News that HRCP delegations were conferring with leaders of all political parties, so that they could be apprised of the human rights situation in the country. “The HRCP wants to organise its efforts for protection of human rights in a government policy on human rights,” she added. She said she had urged Nawaz Sharif to help check fake encounters and torture cases, perpetrated by the police, besides releasing prisoners who had been languishing in jails for petty offences. She said she had also discussed the issue of ‘missing people’ with him as their families were facing a difficult time, urging the government to order their release and record their statements, so that perpetrators of the heinous crime could be exposed and brought to book.

She said the HRCP wanted the issue of restoration of deposed judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan sorted out immediately, so that a free and independent judiciary could further strengthen democratic forces in the country.

She said Nawaz Sharif was also told that there was an urgent need for identification of laws in parliament, under which intelligence agencies were operating. She said the new government should send a strong message that abuse of citizens’ rights and excesses against them by security and intelligence agencies would not be tolerated.

She said Nawaz was also informed that there were 7,000 prisoners on death row and the HRCP demanded commuting their death penalty. “The HRCP also demanded the government grant free access to prisoners and police stations and the new government also take oath from all members of parliament to denounce militancy,” she said, adding that Nawaz was requested to consider suggestions by the HRCP for protection of human rights in the country while forming government policies in the future.

Meanwhile, the HRCP also condemned handing over an Afghan couple by the Kalabgh police to members of a jirga. The Afghan couple, Feroze Khan (18) and Bibi Gul (16), had fled a refugee camp at Kot Chandana for Helmand, Afghanistan, on Thursday evening, when they were arrested by the Kalabagh police at Dara Tang.

Ms Asma said it was a state responsibility to protect rights of people in the country. “If the people start taking the law into their own hands, then nobody will feel personal safety and security in the country,” she said.

She said some people had a strong inclination to forcibly enforce norms of Islam on other people and such activities would promote fundamentalism in the country. She said it was highly condemnable that tribes wanted to stone the couple to death as their action of marrying each other after their own will had been seen un-Islamic.

“Challenges to terrorism cannot be met by keeping silence over a criminal act, depriving people of their right to life,” she said, adding that the threatening tone of militants against those who reminded them that they could not make their own judgements and kill people was highly appalling. She said such threats should be taken seriously and all democratic forces must express their disapproval of them.

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